DevOps and the Service Desk
DevOps is a cultural and professional movement that stresses communication, collaboration, and integration between software developers and IT operations professionals. DevOps responds to the demands of application and business unit stakeholders for an increased rate of production software releases. Driven by the adoption of agile development processes by IT development organizations, DevOps aims to help organizations rapidly produce quality software products and services.
Although the “Ops” in DevOps is often viewed as the technical and application management professionals that deploy and manage applications and their associated infrastructure (e.g., application servers, web servers, and database servers), the service desk supports the goals of DevOps in a number of ways. A goal of DevOps is to produce more frequent software releases. This means the service desk must be prepared to handle a faster rate of change. One way to ensure the service desk is prepared is to engage the service desk earlier in the service lifecycle. For example, some organizations are involving the service desk in testing activities. This enables the service desk to gain early exposure to releases and also capitalizes on the service desk’s ability to log and track incidents. In some organizations, incidents logged during testing are referred to as pre-production incidents. The service desk can also log problems and known errors. Although some problems and known errors may be resolved before a release is moved into production, some may be carried forward into the production environment. Before the service is even deployed, the service desk can ensure knowledge articles are in place that enable efficient handling of those errors when they are encountered. The service desk plays another invaluable role in that it captures data and about incidents and problems affecting production systems. This data not only allows the handling of those incidents and problems, it is also an important part of the feedback loop that enables the development team to improve the quality of the next release and reduce the cost of handling errors associated with that release.
DevOps aims to not only improve Ops’s visibility into development activities, it also aims to improve Dev’s visibility into the impact of changes on the production environment; particularly during early life support. ITIL defines early life support (ELS) as the stage in the service lifecycle that occurs at the end of a deployment and before the service is fully accepted into operation. During ELS the service desk works closely with development and deployment teams to ensure incident and problem management activities are occurring as efficiently and effectively as possible. This includes using and refining provided diagnostic tools and knowledge resources, ensuring clear escalation procedures are in place, and capturing and communicating user and customer complaints.
Key goals of DevOps include better alignment of IT responsiveness and capabilities to business needs and enabling companies to gain a competitive advantage by delivering better software, faster. To contribute to these goals, the service desk must build solid working relationships with development teams and other IT operations teams.